You’ve just landed in Bangkok – one of the most vibrant cities in the world. There’s crazy traffic, sweet smelling street food and an overload of signposts that aren’t helping you get your bearings at all.
Arriving in Bangkok, Thailand can be confusing, and to help you navigate this sprawling, historic and awesome city in the fastest way possible, here are five things you should do as soon as you’ve landed and dropped off your bag.
1. Grab some food
Your love of pad thai is probably one of the reasons you chose Thailand, so deny yourself that tasty dish no longer. Make Baan Phadthai restaurant in Silom your first stop.
If you want to start as you mean to go on and keep those costs down then street food is also a great option. You can grab some of the best at Sukhumvit Market. The cart called ‘Pad Thai Fire Look’ is a particular favourite and here you’ll find an elderly gent cooking up some of the city’s best noodles.
For a more sophisticated affair, and the possibility of rubbing shoulders with some Thai royals, visit Krua Apsorn. It’s a cosy spot loved by locals where stir-fried crab tops the menu.
For a taste of history along with your pak choi, stop by Poj Spa Karn in the old city, which claims to be Bangkok’s oldest eatery.
2. Find some buddies
The best way to have fun in Thailand is with friends, and in one of the friendliest places in the world they’re not hard to find.
Staying in hostels is the easiest way to get your squad together – We Bangkok Hostel and Boxpackers Hostel are two of the best for friendly vibes.
If you’ve opted for homestays or hotels then just join one of the free city walking tours, where you’re bound to find fellow travellers to bond with. FreeBangkokwalks.com and Airotour offer local guides and expert advice.
If all else fails then hit the liquor and do a city bar crawl. Making your way round the bars in a group with a guide is probably a safer option and will guarantee you a good night with a whole new friendship group. Khaosan Pub Crawl keeps it all on the city’s most famous road and the Bangkok Hangover tour takes you to all three of the city’s main nightlife spots: Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and Pat Pong.
3. Visit a watering hole (or two)
Bar crawls will give you a taste of the variety of places Bangkok has for you to sup a beer and slurp a cocktail, but if you don’t want to join a tour then there are some easily accessible and interesting spots to visit solo.
The Banyan Tree is a beautiful hotel and, although budget may not permit a stay here, the rooftop bar, Vertigo, is open to all. Take the lift up for beautiful views of the city below, but be warned: drinks come with a hefty price tag.
If you’re less about the high life and prefer to drink in more intimate venues then visit Wong’s Place. Going strong since the eighties as a drinking spot for backpackers, a visit here is a Bangkok rite of passage. Don’t drop by until after midnight, unless you want to drink by yourself.
Taking it back to backpacker budget realms, return to Khao San Road. Busy all day with vendors and tourists, at night time it cranks up a gear as the bucket drink deals and disco tunes come out.
4. Get the iconic pics for your Snapchat
Your friends and family will want proof you’ve arrived safely, so it’s time to update social media with pictures of all Bangkok’s sights.
The Grand Palace, with its intricately painted white and gold façade, is one of Bangkok’s main attractions. Wander round to find the perfect spot for the ultimate selfie. Remember to cover up or you’ll be made to wear one of their ‘special’ garments to retain your modesty.
Not too far from here you’ll also find Wat Pho, aka The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, and Wat Arun, temples worthy of your posing skills. The latter is known as the Temple of Dawn. It sits on the city’s riverside and a snap here at sunset makes for a magical photo. You can take a boat over for the view.
5. Go explore!
Ever fancied sitting down to watch a few men in silky shorts box it out? Now’s your chance! At stadiums like Rajadamnern and Lumpinee you can catch Muay Thai matches – Channel 7 stadium even lets you watch the fights for free.
If city smog and constant traffic is getting you down, escape the city and take a short train ride to Ayutthaya. The World Heritage Site was once a royal city and you can see the remnants of its royal past in the temple ruins.
Other top attractions to nab some tickets to include a visit to the Damnoen floating market, the bridge on the River Kwai and the city’s Dusit Zoo. You can learn a little more about the culture while taking in those Insta-worthy views.